The Mysterious Cities of Gold only ran in America for four years. It only appeared on Saturdays on Nickelodeon from 1986 to 1990, and it's never been on the air since. Within that brief period, the show gained a massive following that has only grown every year thanks to Internet distribution. I could only remember three episodes, yet I went into adulthood still wanting to see it again, bad. The thing leaves an impression on people.
The Mysterious Cities of Gold is one of the greatest children's programs ever made. It's a 39-part epic storyline about three children in the age of Spanish exploration who set off on a trek to find the cities mentioned in the title. It's SO good, no company in the world wants to do anything with it, or even admit they own it!
A couple years ago, I found a site that would let me download all the episodes. I wondered if the show would hold up against my childhood memories--not all kid shows do. It not only held up, I found it was even better than I remembered!
The epic scope of the series is evident right away--it's got an opening that starts out with a view of the entire universe, then it zooms down and down to Earth, then inside an Incan temple, then through a shimmering tunnel to a golden tower. No computers, no cheating. The title is shown, and the theme song starts--one of the best theme songs I've ever heard. The show's animation is remarkably detailed and fluid for its time period--overall, I'd have to say it hasn't aged a bit. Except for the Peanuts-like dubbing job, but there was no such thing as a good dub in the early 80's.
(By the way, this was written to be an introduction leading to a special download, not an overview of the series itself. Read this if you want to know more about the show--it's one of the only good articles Retrojunk ever published, and THIS page is assuming you are a MCOG fan and already know everything.)
Exactly who holds rights to MCOG is still a mystery. The problem is that it's "Franime"--a joint production between Japan and France. I don't know how much involvement DEEK had in this, but it's not the same DEEK that burped The Littles out one year later. D.I.C. as we know it today brought its first shows out in 1983, and this first appeared in Japan in 1982. Besides, let's admit it, if this was an honest-to-goodness D.I.C. production, it would have turned out a lot worse.
My best guess: D.I.C. co-founded the project to raise enough money to stand on their own. And they apparently don't own this cartoon anymore. Recently they purchased back rights to their entire production library, encompassing everything from M.A.S.K. to the Care Bears. MCOG was not on the list.
Further complicating matters....you won't believe what OTHER name shows up in the credits....
HAIM SABAN. He of Saban Enterprises, which financed some of the most bizarre children's programs of the 90's. Fortunately one of those was Power Rangers, so Haim didn't do too bad for himself. Here, he's listed under "music," meaning all he did was supply the soundtrack. Haim was a composer before Zordon granted him millionaire powers--he and Levy came up with most of D.I.C's 80's tunes. Normally, a combination of Saban and DEEK would produce a disastrous abomination like "Super Duper Sumos," but not this time. Not THIS time.
And speaking of music......
More and more MCOG-devoted sites spring up every day. Someone registered Themysteriouscitiesofgold.com (which I'm surprised wasn't taken already) and filled it with pics of his MCOG collection. And WHAT a collection!
I had no idea so much existed. Books! Sheet music! Trading cards! Bubble gum! Actual animation cels! Plastic rulers! Action figures! Production scripts! Zipper pouches! Manga! Calculators!
It was more Esteban than I ever wanted to see in my life.
The biggest surprise came when I explored his "Records" section and found a downloadable release of the show's soundtrack! WOW! ......Then it turned to disappointment.
There WAS a vinyl released in Japan that contained the show soundtrack....but apparently the Japanese music for the series was completely different. It sounded closer to Scooby Doo than the early 80's dreamy synth tunes I was familiar with. Even the theme song was different, and it's hard to believe the Japanese producers preferred their own version to the French one. It was crushing....because the odds weren't very good that someone would publish a soundtrack for a kids' TV show outside of Japan.
But guess what?..........It DID happen.
In France, another vinyl was released that compiled the French soundtrack. It's not on the guy's site, and I only found it after digging through a well-hidden, small-operation French site. I didn't understand a word of it, and I found these MP3s through guess-and-click work.
Here they are now, as the main attraction of this page. The quality isn't what we're used to from CDs, and it's not in stereo, but neither was the show. It's also kinda pathetic that the show's entire music library fits on one CD.....but who's really complaining? Here, finally, are uncut MCOG music tracks for your listening pleasure.
1. English Theme
2. French Theme (with narrator-less prelude)
3. Esteban's Theme
4. Zia's Theme
5. Tao's Theme
6. Children of the Sun
7. The Condor in Flight
8. Esteban's Adventure
9. Tao's Adventure
11. Mendoza's Theme
12. Esteban's Dream
13. The Storm
14. Esperenza Adrift
15. Majestic Solaris
16. Electronic Adventure
17. Happy Esteban
18. The Attack of the Spaniards
19. Tao the Inventor
20. To the Harbors of the City
21. Esteban in the City
22. St. Elmo's Fire
23. Snakes on a Condor*
24. The Andes
25. The Incas
26. The Incan Gods
27. Sad City of Gold
28. Singer-less MCOG Theme
29. Japanese Theme
*It translated as "Snakes To Feathers".....I had to pick the nearest title that made sense.....you don't hate me, do you?
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